Derren Brown – How to Take Someone’s Wallet by Asking

I want to take a moment to chastise my British readers for not alerting me to Derren Brown’s Mind Control. Yeah, I’m calling you Brits out. You know I love James Randi, Penn Jillette and every other skeptic so the least you could do is alert me to Derren Brown. I’m bloody mad that nobody sent me a youtube clip or a wikipedia entry. If I have my history correct, the Boston Tea Party was caused by a similar incident.

But nevertheless, thanks to YouTube, I’ve started getting more clips of Brown’s show and there is now an American version of it on the SciFi network (which I just set a season pass for via Tivo). I’m going to have to track down the original version and Netflix doesn’t have any listed but I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

After watching the clip above, I did some research on what exactly was happening and found out this entry on Milton H. Erickson and the Handshake Induction:

Confusion is the basis of Erickson’s famous hypnotic handshake. Many actions are learned and operate as a single “chunk” of behavior: shaking hands and tying shoelaces being two classic examples. If the behavior is diverted or frozen midway, the person literally has no mental space for this – he is stopped in the middle of unconsciously executing a behavior that hasn’t got a “middle”. The mind responds by suspending itself in trance until either something happens to give a new direction, or it “snaps out”. A skilled hypnotist can often use that momentary confusion and suspension of normal processes to induce trance quickly and easily.